Evgeny Rylov attends Putin rally, then drops out of world championships
Two-time Olympic gold winner, swimmer Evgeny Rylov, who is under investigation for attending a Putin rally, has dropped out of the FINA World Championships.
A rally in support of Russian president Vladimir Putin was held on Friday in Moscow, and eight Russian athletes attended in support of the event. Two-time Olympic swimmer Evgeny Rylov was one of them. The rally was held to commemorate the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Pro-war Russian athletes under fire
The Russian athletes in attendance recieved backlash immediately. The swimwear manufacturer Speedo ended their sponsorship deal with Rylov.
The International Swimming Federation, FINA wrote in an email on Tuesday, "FINA is deeply disappointed to note the reports regarding Evgeny Rylov's appearance at the Luzhniki Stadium during Friday's rally. We are investigating the matter further."
Rylov drops out of world championships
On Wednesday, Rylov announced his withdrawal from the FINA World Championships in support of all Russian athletes who’ve been banned from other sports. Though several other sporting events have banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing, FINA actually was one of the few that were still allowing them to compete as neutrals.
After the pro-war Putin rally last week, the International Swimming League (ISL) Energy Standard decided to suspend all Russian athletes as well. They called the rally a “very public support for the invasion of Ukraine” and condemned it.
Rylov won two consecutive titles in the ISL World Championships in 2017 and 2019 in men’s 200 backstroke. His withdrawal means he will relinquish his crown as the world champion.
In Rylov’s post announcing his withdrawal, he said this: “Conclusions should be made by the federations about the direction in which they want to develop sports and whether Pierre de Coubertin wanted to see when he initiated the organization of the Olympic Games, which were supposed to unite people.”